Quashes appointment of Managing Director of Public Sector Undertaking

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Uttarakhand High Court for passing an order ignoring the law, and quashed the appointment of Ravinder Kumar as managing director of the Uttarakhand Peyjal Sanshadhan Vikas Avam Nirman Nigam.

A Bench of Justice H. L. Gokhale and Justice J. Chelameswar said: “The fact of pending charge-sheets against Mr. Ravinder Kumar (respondent 4) ought to have been placed before the Selection Committee…. In the absence of such a very vital material being placed before the Selection Committee, the Committee went into the aspect of determining the merit without having the benefit of this vital material which was against respondent No.4. If these charge-sheets were made available to the Committee, it would have taken its decision after considering the same.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Gokhale said: “The Principal Secretary to the Water Supply Department is the Chairman of the Nigam. It was his responsibility to place these charge sheets before the Selection Committee of which he is a member. If the Secretary of the department suppresses the relevant material, obviously the selection will not be on merit. This in fact raises a serious doubt about the integrity of the then Chairman of the Nigam.”

The Bench said: “We are equally or more appalled at the manner in which the concerned division bench of the High Court has handled the matter. The High Court has totally ignored the law on this aspect. The relevant rule No. 5 was brought to the notice of the High Court. Submissions were made thereon, and yet the High Court held that the law permitted the selectors to ignore altogether the charges.”

The Bench further stated: “We cannot remain oblivious of the fact that a Division Bench presided over by the Chief Justice of the High Court has condoned such serious breaches in approving the suppression of the relevant material… Such judgments would lead to the approval of the appointment of persons of doubtful integrity in higher administrative positions. Apart from that, it will lead the people to doubt the integrity of the judges as well. Citizens have faith in the judiciary because it is expected to render justice even-handedly. It is such orders which bring the judiciary into disrepute. We rather refrain from saying anything more.”

The Bench set aside the High Court judgment. As a consequence of this order, the Bench said: “Mr. Ravinder Kumar will now be immediately placed in the position which he was occupying prior to his election as Managing Director of the Nigam.” The Bench imposed Rs.50,000 costs each on Mr. Kumar and the Nigam and said this amount should be given to the appellant Bhajan Singh.